Tag Archive for Nepal

Our Operations Manager, Andy Baker, updates us on his recce in Nepal

It has been a difficult year for Nepal, not that you would really know this from the warm greeting that I have received from all of our different ground crews here. In the week that Prince Harry has also made a trip around some of Nepal’s cultural highlights I too have been fortunate enough to spend some time working in collaboration with our ground teams on a couple of new itineraries that Charity Challenge will be running this autumn. Our Poon Hill Himalayan Trek in the Annapurna region, and our Kathmandu Valley Cycle.

First though has been a quick re-connection with an old favourite. Everest Base Camp. Last week 13 intrepid challengers stepped off the plane in Kathmandu to begin their long ascent through the Himalayas towards the iconic Base Camp. This is the first trip that Charity Challenge have run in Nepal since the disasters of 2015 and the trails are still quiet, making it the perfect time to visit.

Our itinerary rather uniquely combines both the authentic ‘teahouse’ experience and the challenge of camping. Meals are served by our kitchen team within the dining room of a local teahouse, whilst nights are spent under canvas just off the trail. The warmth and comfort of a teahouse, combined with the incredible vistas provided by unzipping your tent in the morning to a panorama of snow capped peaks. This is a fairly unique way to run this itinerary, and judging by the group who are still currently making their way to Base Camp, a very enjoyable way to do this trek.

Nepal has faced a tough year and we are delighted to have been able to start sending groups again and give local people some much needed work. With the creation of a couple of new itineraries hopefully even more people will get to sample this fantastic country soon.

As for me, well I am back in Kathmandu putting the finishing touches to the rest of my itinerary. A few days cycling in the Kathmandu Valley, followed by a trek to Poon Hill for views stretching off across to Annapurna. Not even Prince Harry can top that!

Andy Baker
UK Operations Manager

Join Charity Challenge Director, Simon Albert, on a community build in Nepal

Charity Challenge director, Simon Albert, is heading out to Nepal in November this year to help build homes for communities in desperate need.

There are 20 places available to join him. Are you up for the challenge?

The recent earthquake in Nepal (25th April 2015) with a magnitude 7.8, killed more than 8,000 people and injured more than twice as many.

“It has been more than 20 years since I first trekked through Nepal, and I still remember those trekking days with great fondness. Now I look forward to returning and helping Nepal to get back on its feet and to really make a positive difference to those living below the poverty line.”

Some estimate that the final death toll could top 10,000 people. Hundreds of people are still considered missing and more than 450,000 are displaced. Many people were made homeless with entire villages flattened, across many districts of the country. Over 284,455 houses were destroyed and 234,102 damaged. The need for housing was massive before, now the task is even greater.

Simon has previously led teams to build houses in Sri Lanka, India and South Africa, and is looking to take a team of 20 people with him who will raise funds for the work of Habitat for Humanity, and physically work for 6 days on the build site in Pokhara, Nepal.

IMG_7139Join Simon and a team of other volunteers to put your heart and sweat into what we believe will be one of the most rewarding experiences we can offer, a helping hand to communities in desperate need of a safe place to live.

Please email info@charitychallenge.com to register your interest in joining Simon in Nepal in November.

If you want to wake up each morning knowing that by the end of each day, you will have helped a community in need to build a brighter future, then please read on.

Building a home for a family in need of help is a unique experience that opens your eyes to the plight of those who do not have the basics that most of us take for granted.

For families who are determined to break out of the cycle of poverty, your support to build a new home brings with it the anticipation of building a better future for themselves. For children, a new home offers a chance to grow and thrive in surroundings that are safe. A place to live where they are sheltered from bad weather, fall ill less, go to school more regularly, and get to enjoy childhood.

IMG_1587It is both a physical and emotional experience, and volunteers often come away from participating in a community challenge with a greater understanding of poverty and the affect it can have on family life.

All it takes to participate in this challenge is enthusiasm, a willingness to do whatever is needed and a desire to help make a difference to the lives of the people whose home you will be building.

No other skills are required as there will be skilled supervisors to show you what to do.

The outlined itinerary is as follows:
Day 1: Thu 29 Oct 2015 – London to Delhi
Day 2: Fri 30 Oct 2015 – Arrival in Kathmandu, Nepal
Day 3: Sat 31 Oct 2015 – Transfer to Pokhara
Day 4-9: Sun 01 to Fri 06 Nov 2015- Building work
Day 10: Sat 07 Nov 2015 – Transfer to Kathmandu
Day 11: Sun 08 Nov 2015 – Depart Nepal for UK

Nep2
The challenge will involve working in teams to help on the construction of a new home. Tasks may involve digging foundations, chipping rocks, cutting and framing with bamboo, mixing clay or render, sieving sand, moving materials around the site, and setting window or door frames.

Houses will vary according to the family size, allocating 48.2 square meters per family, and each house will have two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a toilet.

Everything you do on a construction site, whether it is sifting sand, removing or placing dirt, mixing cement by hand or passing buckets of mortar to another team member, is helping the community. It is an inspiring process to be involved in.

You will never be asked to do anything outside of your physical capabilities and team work will be encouraged at all times.

No volunteer will ever be made to feel they have to do something they are not happy or comfortable doing. If you feel you cannot do what you have been asked to, please speak to your construction supervisor or team leader and they will do their best to find you something else.

You will be required to pay a deposit of £500 and raise a minimum of £3200 for Habitat for Humanity (of which no more than £700 will be used to cover the balance of your international flights and Kathmandu hotel costs).

Places are strictly allocated on a first come first served basis.

For more information about this challenge or other similar challenges, please email info@charitychallenge.com.

Home to the majestic Mount Everest, Nepal is also one of the world’s poorest countries.

A 2010/2011 national survey on living standards estimated that 25 percent of the population lives on the equivalent of less than US$1 a day.

According to the Nepali government, about 9.5 million people (41 percent of the population) live in inadequate housing. Such structures are typically supported by bamboo or old timber pillars, with mud walls and thatched roof. Water is often unsanitary and few dwellings have toilets or electricity.

These dilapidated houses are also a fire risk; nearly 10,000 families lose their homes to fire every year. Thousands of others have their houses destroyed by landslides, floods and other natural disasters each year.

Additional information:

Pokhara
The build will take place in Pokhara. It was planned before the earthquake and will support families living in totally inadequate shelter to build a better future on the solid foundation of a simple, disaster resilient home. The Charity Challenge team will work wherever it is deemed most appropriate by Habitat for Humanity on the ground. The funds you raise will directly support the project and will ensure Habitat, across the UK, continues to engage people directly in building a world where everybody has a decent place to live.

Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity’s life-changing mission is to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.nep3
Anchored by the conviction that housing provides a critical foundation for breaking the cycle of poverty, Habitat has helped more than 5 million people in 70 countries to construct, rehabilitate or preserve their homes since 1976.

Globally, Habitat has also served more than one million people in 44 countries in the aftermath of disaster and conflict, and reached thousands more through disaster risk reduction.

Habitat for Humanity Nepal (HFHN)

Since its formation in 1997, Habitat for Humanity Nepal has helped 54,354 families into decent homes, opening the door to breaking the cycle of poverty.

HFHN strongly supports the preservation of the natural environment, and actively promotes the development and use of sustainable building materials that will be incorporated in to all houses.

Since the earthquake, they are working in partnership with the Nepali government, the UN Shelter Cluster, and local communities to ensure the effectiveness of their response.

nep4

N.B. The itinerary is there as a guide and may change due to the weather, the strength of the group and so on. We will do our very best to keep to the set itinerary however we cannot be held responsible for any last minute changes that might occur. In all such circumstances, your community challenge leader / construction supervisor will have the final say.

Images © Ezra Millstein / Habitat for Humanity

 

 

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE UPDATE

IMG_1587
The recent earthquake in Nepal (25th April 2015) with a magnitude 7.8, killed more than 7,675 people and injured more than twice as many.

Some estimate that the final death toll could top 10,000 people. Hundreds of people are still considered missing and more than 450,000 are displaced.

Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless with entire villages flattened, across many districts of the country. Over 284,455 houses have been destroyed and 234,102 have been damaged.

Centuries-old buildings were destroyed at UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley.

The earthquake triggered several large avalanches on Mount Everest killing at least 19 people, making it the deadliest day on the mountain in history. One avalanche, originating off the nearby peak of Pumori, swept through part of the Khumbu Icefall and into Everest Base Camp. As we speak, search teams are still working in the Langtang region to locate people after an avalanche and landslide swept through the village.

Although Charity Challenge did not have any clients in country at the time, nine sherpas that work for our ground team in Nepal and were in the Everest region, lost their lives. They were:

• Pema Hissi Sherpa
• Dawa Chhiri Sherpa
• Chhimi Dawa Sherpa
• Pemba Sherpa
• Milan Rai
• Pasang Temba Sherpa
• Tenjing Bhote
• Krishna Kuram Rai
• Zangbu Sherpa

For those of you that know Kamal Bhandari, our lead guide, he has been in touch and has left Kathmandu for his village in the east of Nepal, and after four nights sleeping outdoors, is now home with his family. He sends his thanks for all of the supportive messages we have received. Iswari and the team based in Kathmandu are all accounted for but of course they and their families are affected by the sheer scale of the damage and destruction.

NEPA-15-12017-EM

Our thoughts go out to the entire nation, and particularly the families of the team who have supported us so well over the years.

Charity Challenge have doubled our community support donation for the year and will be supporting the families of these members of the team that have worked so hard over the years to help many clients to reach base camp and the summit of Everest. We will also be donating to Habitat for Humanity who we are working closely with to help build homes for the hundreds of thousands of people now in desperate need of permanent shelter.

IMG_7139

If anyone wishes to support the people of Nepal directly, you can of course donate to the DEC campaign. Whatever you can afford to give, however small, will help Nepal to start the rehabilitation process. £25 can provide clean water for four families for 1 month. £50 can feed a family for two weeks. £100 can provide emergency shelter for five families.

Or please feel free to also support Habitat for Humanity, as we have chosen to do.

Thank you,
Simon Albert
Director

NEPA-15-12094-EM

Images © Ezra Millstein / Habitat for Humanity

Source: UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs

Nepal Earthquake

To all of you who have been to Nepal and met our incredible team, we have now managed to speak with Kamal who has single-handedly led many of you to Everest Base Camp, and to Iswari who manages the ground operations team in-country. Both are safe after the earthquake, but the landlines have been down and we are yet to get any more detail. Clearly this is a devastating earthquake and our thoughts and prayers go to all concerned in Nepal. We will be donating the bulk this year’s Charity Challenge Community Support Fund to the disaster relief effort. If anyone would like to further support the UK’s efforts to help the people of Nepal, please visit one of the following websites:

UNICEF

Save the Children

ActionAid

As we have more details, we will keep you updated.

Many thanks.

Simon

Holi!!!

Holi,the world’s most colourful celebration!

holi1

It’s the 24th March which means only one thing, it’s Holi! The wonderful celebration of colour and love! Holi takes place all over India and Nepal and is a great excuse to cover fellow revelers, with gusto in coloured powder and cold water… anyone is fair game, so get colourful!

holi2This truly is the most colourful festival on earth, kicking off the night before with huge bonfires, ‘Holika Dahan’, lit to burn away evil spirits. Originating in India, this Hindu festival celebrates the victory of good over evil and is a jubilant affair with music, singing and dancing and effectively turns into a huge street party with revelers covering anyone and everyone in powder. The celebrations bring rich, poor and everyone in between together to celebrate love and forgiveness. From parks to temples, the faces, clothes and smiles of everyone involved will be covered from head to toe in the vibrant colours of spring. The excitement that surrounds the celebrations has attracted thousands of travelers from all over the world and has seen the festivities and the positive message spread worldwide.

So what are you waiting for?

If you want to head to the home of Holi, why not take part in one of our incredible challenges in India and Nepal:

Dalai Lama Himalayan Trek

India Golden Triangle Cycle Challenge

Stok Kangri Summit Trek

Everest Base Camp

Poon Hill Himalayan Trek

Cycle Kathmandu Valley

holi3

Kamal Bhandari, our Nepalese Challenge Leader had a secret urge to visit the Great Wall of China…

KamalKamal has been leading Charity Challenge Everest Base Camp Treks for over ten years. He has weathered some of the most rugged terrain on Earth and has never hesitated to go the extra mile for his team and those trekking with him.  Many of you reading this will have shared some memorable moments in the Himalayas with him and know how passionate he is about making the trips a wonderful experience for his clients.

We found out that a lifelong dream of Kamal’s was to visit the Great Wall of China and as he has been a truly wonderful guide and advocate of Charity Challenge over the years, we set plans in motion to try and make a trip for him as memorable…  Here’s what he has to say:

“My journey to Great Wall has been a memorable one. A dream come true. A Big THANK YOU and the credit goes to Charity Challenge for helping and sorting my trip. It really makes me proud working with them.

This trip was different from my usual treks in Nepal. It is not correct to say that it was easy compared with my trips in the Himalayas. We had to walk lots of ups and downs, half of which was natural and half renovated – some of them were killers! But I loved it.

I was given the chance from Charity Challenge to be with a trekking team from Royal Marsden Hospital of 24 trekkers. I felt lucky to be with them. Even though I was a stranger for everyone before the trip, I was never given a chance to think back. The care, love and friendly attitude of everyone made me speechless.

With nothing to worry about – altitude nor the clients, I was tension free.  I was more like aKalam in china small spoiled kid kept in middle of the toy shop. The views, walk itself, greenery, shopkeepers, locals, guides and participants are all still rolling over my head. For everything I give a BIG THUMBS UP.

On completion of the Great Wall Walk, covering 50 KM in 5 days, we advanced towards Central Beijing. Beijing was other place I always want to visit. Olympic 2008 stadium, watching aerobatics, visiting the square which could hold millions of people at once, the Forbidden  City which is renowned and famous and Temple of Heaven were all the highlights which I felt lucky to see.

I could easily make it that it was my holiday, as I felt very emotional leaving Beijing and departing with my friends, which normally does not happen with me.

Lastly, I am very grateful to CHARITY CHALLENGE and to everyone who supported me (Simon A and B, Carmel, Jo and David) to fulfill my desire to walk on the Great Wall and visit Beijing.”

Kamal we salute you! Thank you for your continued energy and experience looking after our clients in Nepal.

If Kamal’s dream has inspired you to trek on the Great Wall of China, then please click here.

To keep up to date on all our challenge news, you can subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

2012 – a very Responsible year!

I’ve been trying to look back on some of the things that we have achieved over the last year in our efforts to always act sustainably, responsibly and ethically, and give back to the local communities that welcome us so generously on all of our challenges. It was only when I started looking through everything that has happened that I realized what a long year it has been! From our Essex2India cycle ride with Lydia Bright and Denise Van Outen, to launching the business in Canada and landing two Canadian exclusive challenges in 2013 with UNICEF and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, not to mention the team changes with the leaving and hiring of several new staff members… 2012 seems to have passed in a blur!!
Looking back has been useful; because it has given us all a chance to plan forward… we can see what we have achieved, and what there is still left to do. With that in mind, here are my top 5 Responsible Tourism highlights of 2012. Enjoy!

5. The Rainforest Alliance conference
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to go to a conference hosted by the Rainforest Alliance, celebrating their 25 years. I wrote about the conference in my blog shortly after, but what impressed me the most (and why it deserves to be in my top 10) is that the conference went right to the heart of what sustainability will mean for future economies, focusing in particular on South American and African countries. It showed the important part that western businesses play in supporting other economies… not through charity, but through buying ethically produced goods and on the understanding that this benefits everyone involved.

4. Building schools in Brazil and Nepal
Little known fact about Charity Challenge – most of our business used to be made up of running Community Challenges for exclusive charity or corporate groups, all with the aim of contributing to schools, homes and other building projects, in the developing world. Sadly the call for these types of challenges decreased as the more adventurous trips to Kili and Everest took over, but this year we sent two groups out to Brazil and Nepal to contribute to building projects in some of the poorest areas of the countries. Significant progress was made, with houses being re-roofed, proper windows put in, ceilings plastered and walls painted, not to mention the houses that were completely started from scratch. Everything is done with the help of a proper construction supervisor, group leader and trained crew – to make sure the houses are well made and sturdy.

3. Climate Care and ‘Carbon for Water’
This year we made a payment to Climate Care of just over £23 000 to offset our carbon emissions. Since 2007 we have offset over 10 000 tonnes of fuel, which is the equivalent of taking more than 3000 cars of the road for a year… hmmm fresh air! The money goes to fund carbon reduction projects like the Kenyan project Carbon for Water. This short video will tell you more in a few minutes than I could explain in the next ten pages, but in short, the project distributes simple gravity fed water filters, providing safe water to 4.5 million people in Kenya. It was recently featured in the Guardian, and we are incredibly proud of having contributed to it.

2. Local project support
For each participant that takes on a challenge with us, we make a donation to a local charity or project that works and concentrates aid in the country that the participant is travelling to. This is a long-term commitment of ours, and one that deserves to be at number two on the hit list! Projects who have thanked us and benefited from the support are as wide ranging as the International Porter Protection Group for our Nepal and Stok Kangri trips (IPPG); a small orphanage in Romania for our Trek Transylvania; Community Projects Africa for all Kili adventures and the Sumatran Orangutan Society for our Sumatran Jungle Trek. To read more about the projects that we support, click here. Needless to say we are pleased and proud to have supported so many this year.

1. The Deepen Rai foundation
A sobering note on which to end the round up, but a fitting end nonetheless. We sadly lost one of our most amazing and talented guides this year, Deepen Rai. He has led many, many of our Stok Kangri and Everest Base Camp challenges, and he sadly died in a plane crash while taking a group of British trekkers from another UK tour operator. We had thought to set up a fund in his name, and by cooperating with the other operator in question we have contributed a great deal, with the help of some extremely kind donations from YOU. We are still in talks with Deepen’s wife regarding where the money should be used. Deepen was the sole earner, and he had a wife and children who depended on his income, as well as helping to support a project in the Himalayan region of Nepal. The money will continue to support them, although it still cannot replace the loss of a husband and father.

So a year of ups and downs, providing lots of food for thought. I haven’t even mentioned World Responsible Tourism day on the 7th November, but that’s another story. It has been, on the whole, a good year, and we are looking forward to some exciting things ahead for 2013 so watch this space!

From all at Charity Challenge we wish you a very Happy, Healthy and RESPONSIBLE Christmas period!!

Supporting our Porters!

So, as Christmas comes upon us and Jack Frost is nipping at Great Britain’s communal nose, I thought a little festive cheer was in order from the outside world. It has long been built into Charity Challenge’s policy on Responsible Tourism, that for each person taking part on a challenge, we will make a donation to a local project or charity, with the aim of contributing and giving back to the communities that have welcomed our trekkers. Of course, Responsible Tourism is about the environment, preserving culture, respecting behavioural norms etc… however I’ve always felt that our kind of adventure tourism owes a debt to the local staff that we employ in country. These are people who take on the challenges that our participants have trained and fundraised so hard for, but the difference is that they do them every day, for a living, working hard to make our challenges as unforgettable experiences as possible. Imagine climbing to Everest Base Camp. Incredible. Now imagine taking on the climb EVERY WEEK. With 20kg strapped to your back. Setting up camp, cooking and looking after a group of adventurers, far away from your family at home.

The incredible feats performed by our porters inspire our choice to send our Everest Base Camp and Stok Kangri donations to the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG). Just last month we received a letter from them confirming that this has been the right decision. We have sent, over the last 2 financial years, a total of £2613 to the charity, and their letter has iterated exactly how the money has been put to good use, and the incredible importance of donations to the continuance of their work.

In association with Community Action Nepal, IPPG have been building a medical rescue post and porter shelter where porters can have access to cooking facilities, warm blankets and a place to sleep within the shelter. They are in the process of building a similar outpost in a neighbouring valley, and both provide medical treatment to the lowland porters who are generally poorly equipped for high altitude. One of the greatest problems facing porters in Nepal is that they can be abandoned by their trekking group if they are sick, and made to descend alone where they will not be paid for their work. They also often carry a weight that far exceeds the regulations, although IPPG are stamping down hard on this.

It’s always great to get feedback about the projects that we support, so if you have any comments then  do get in touch with us. To read more about what IPPG do, and how this money supports their daily work, visit www.IPPG.com.

To learn more about all our charity challenges, and find out how else we get involved with Responsible Tourism you can read our Responsible Tourism policy here, and you can visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com . To keep up to date on all our challenge news, you can subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.